Jake’s Take: Spring Training Postseason Prediction

Yet another spring training is upon us. The birds are halfheartedly in the air; the breeze drops the wind chill to below freezing; the sun shines for four hours every third day- these are all classic signs of the beginning of baseball in Missouri. There is no denying that baseball fever has heated up due to the departure of the now-Los Angeles Rams, but spring training is bigger than any one city or any one fanbase. Spring training is the time to find out what the season looks like around the MLB, and I’m here to give you a sneak peak of my picks for the postseason after just a handful of spring training exhibitions. I hope that you keep that in mind when none of these picks pan out past the All-Star Break. Enjoy.

American League

Wild Card 2: Texas Rangers (86-76)

The Rangers were a bit of a surprise to win the division late last season, but they look poised to make the postseason again this year, retaining much of their core from last season while Yu Darvish is expected to return and make big contributions fairly early in the season. It just seems that they are one unexpected trade at the deadline or another breakout rookie away from being a legitimate World Series contender.

Wild Card 1: Toronto Blue Jays (90-72)

If all goes the way I project, the Rangers will have to face the Blue Jays again in the playoffs. The team from north of the border is going to be hammering out bomb after bomb, an act the Rangers tried to report as terrorism after their loss in the ALDS last season. The only question marks remain in the starting rotation, but who needs pitching when you’re already just a few aggressive bat flips away from the World Series?

Division Winner 3: Kansas City Royals (89-73)

Taking a bit of a dip in 2016 will be the Royals. This is nothing against the team, it’s just that their division has gotten much better behind them, and they haven’t done much to keep their lead on the rest of the pack. The big move for the Royals was to keep one of their own players, and they even lost the ringer they brought in at the trade deadline in Johnny Cueto. Kansas City will take a step back, but they’re still going to be easy favorites to win their division and get back to the postseason for the third year in a row.

Division Winner 2: Boston Red Sox (92-70)

The Red Sox are the most inconsistent team in baseball, bouncing back and forth between win totals in the 70’s and 90’s from season to season. This season just so happens to be a year that the Red Sox will be on the upswing. Look for the David Price, the 217 Million Dollar Man, to have an extremely David Price-esque season, notching almost 20 wins with an ERA just below 3.00 and one of the most impressive Septembers most pundits have ever seen.

Division Winner 1: Houston Astros (94-68)

Topping the American League this season will be the Houston Astros. While Houston has only been in the American League for three years- this being their fourth- they have quickly flipped the switch and turned themselves into a viable and threatening contender in a league run by the fast and the strong, two aspects at which the Astros excel. They are the fastest team in all of baseball, and they are undoubtedly loaded with young talent, making sure that the Houston Astros will be a force to be reckoned with for a long, long time.

National League

Wild Card 2: Pittsburgh Pirates (91-71)

The National League is crowded with good teams. Sports Illustrated picked the Pirates as the fifth-best team in all of baseball, but only the fourth-best in the NL, and I’m picking them to land in the second Wild Card spot. The Pirates are definitely one of the five best teams in the league, but they didn’t do enough in the offseason to secure the right to play for the division title. Sure, they traded Neil Walker for Jon Niese, but a slightly above-average starting pitcher can only do so much for a team that needs more.

Wild Card 1: St. Louis Cardinals (92-70)

St. Louis is scared. The city has already lost their football team, and now they are facing the harsh reality that they no longer have the best team in the NL Central. Why else would the extremely conservative John Mozeliak try to splurge to bring David Price to the River City? With all of the money coming into the Cardinals’ system following a massive $1 billion deal with Fox Sports Midwest, now is the time- if there has ever been a time in St. Louis- to spend. The Cardinals missed out on David Price, but a deadline deal for the reigning Silver Slugger Carlos Gonzalez, still with more than $35 million left on his contract for the next two years and whom the Rockies have been shopping out all winter, would solidify St. Louis as a scary contender. Let’s also not forget who this team is. There’s just something about the birds on the bat in October that sparks magic in the air.

Division Winner 3: San Francisco Giants (87-75)

Now it’s time for some simple math. 2010 is an even-numbered year. 2012 is an even-numbered year. 2014 is an even-numbered year. 2016 is an even-numbered year. The Giants won the World Series in 2010, 2012 and 2014, so, by the pattern, the Giants will win the World Series in 2016. To win the World Series, a team must make the playoffs; therefore, the Giants will make the playoffs. Also, they added starting pitchers Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija, making their starting rotation dangerous down to the sixth starter. That’s enough to give them the nod over the Dodgers.

Division Winner 2: New York Mets (93-69)

The reigning NL champions will have the easiest road to the postseason by far. There will be nearly no competition in the NL East for the title, as the Nationals are poised to miraculously underachieve again this season, and the rest of the division is a dead fish, inept natives and the worst team in baseball. This being said, the road is never easy, but New York is the city of dreams, as well as the city of uncontained power and young fireballers with billowing hair that are almost sure to lead their team back deep into the postseason.

Division Winner 1: Chicago Cubs (97-65)

Speaking of youth and uncontained power, the Chicago Cubs. The Cubs are the no-brainer pick as the best team in baseball, and it’s going to be a long year for every other team in the NL Central. Chicago seems to have it all- youthful power that slammed its way through the hated Cardinals in the NLDS, starting pitching that can make any batter quivver and an experience manager who knows how to win. Even the worst facet of the Cubs, their bullpen, is back loaded with single-inning guys who can craftily work their way past nearly any three hitters. The only tangible hope any team has of stopping the Cubs is the knowledge that the front office has historically taken an early vacation after the All-Star Break until they get to watch the World Series on TV in October.

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